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Blackburn Roc

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The Roc was a single-engined two-seater turret fighter that saw service with the Fleet Air Arm, during 1940 it would be involved in operations over Norway and France. Suffering with poor performance due to its turret armament and despite efforts to improve this the Blackburn Roc began to be removed from frontline service and was eventually retired during 1943.

Quick Facts
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First flight
23rd December 1938
Entered service
February 1940
Total built

Front view
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Side view
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Rear view
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The Blackburn Roc, derived from the Blackburn Skua, was designed to meet Air Ministry Specification O.30/35 which was issued on the 31st December 1935 and called for a new two-seater fighter to equip Fleet Air Arm squadrons. The armament would be a gun turret located behind the cockpit to allow concentrated fire on enemy bombers. The aircraft would be up against the Boulton Paul Defiant, but it was the Roc that would go into production when, on the 28th April 1937, 136 were ordered.

With Blackburn already committed to building their Skua the construction of the Roc would be subcontracted out, with the 10th July 1937 seeing Specification 15/37 issued for Boulton Paul to build the 136 aircraft. On the 23rd December 1938 the Blackburn Roc flew for the first time and was sent to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment during March 1939. The Roc's performance suffered, due to the protruding turret, and the aircraft was slower than the Skua and despite trying various options, including fitting a larger propeller, to improve performance little was gained although the aircraft with the use of dive brakes was stable in a steep dive.

The Blackburn Roc Mk I was powered by a 890-hp Bristol Pegasus XII engine giving the aircraft a top speed of 223 mph, range of 810 miles with a service ceiling of 18,000 ft. Armament was four 0.303-in machine-guns in the rear turret. It would be during February 1940 when the Roc would first enter service with the Fleet Air Arm when No. 806 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Eastleigh received the first examples.

During the Blackburn Roc's operational service it would play a role in the Allied operation to defend Norway (8th April 1940 - 10th June 1940) and it would take part in the evacuation of the Allied forces at Dunkirk, France, Operation Dynamo (26th May 1940 - 4th June 1940). It was during this period when, on the 28th May 1940, a No. 806 Naval Air Squadron Blackburn Roc got the types only confirmed victory by shooting down a Junkers Ju 88. Further operations followed including on the 21st June 1940 when five Rocs alongside four Skuas, all from No. 801 Naval Air Squadron, attacked German positions at Cap Gris-Nez, France.

After this the Roc would start to be phased out of frontline Fleet Air Arm service as the Fairey Fulmar started to enter service. Dispersed around the United Kingdom the Blackburn Roc would also serve with the Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit and a few battle damaged Rocs would serve as permanently manned machine-gun posts and a few made their way to Bermuda. Others were converted to target tugs, with four Rocs also converted into floatplanes.

With only the original 136 ordered produced, the last being delivered on the 19th August 1940, the Blackburn Roc was slowly phased out of service with the final two removed during August 1943.

Technical Details

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Top Speed Range Service Ceiling Armament
Roc Mk I 223 mph 810 miles 18,000 ft four 0.303-in machine-guns


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(C) = Cockpit only exhibit. (F) = Fuselage only exhibit. (R) = Remains of an aircraft.

No known examples currently on public display in the UK.

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